Friday, October 25, 2013

Apps and Activities for Hallowe'en

Apps and Activities for Hallowe'en
by Susan Stephenson,

Hallowe'en is fast approaching. In many countries at this time of year, kids' minds turn to ghoulish things. If you're looking for some literacy and learning-related activities that children will "think" are part of Hallowe'en, read on.

Apps for Hallowe'en

I don't believe in scaring kids on purpose, so I tend to gravitate towards the gentler, cute apps. You may find them some best suited to younger kids.

There are several apps with a monster theme. One I like is Moody Monster Manor (FREE). "Calling all kids who love monsters! Come with us to Moody Monster Manor. You can create your own monsters, play fun and exciting games, win monster merit badges, or meet the 20 monsters through the Moody Monster audio tour." I reviewed this app on Monday.

A new favourite is EyePaint Monsters (FREE). More than just a colouring app, kids can "use the mobile device’s camera as a tool to capture colors, patterns and textures to interactively fill areas in the drawings selected by the child." This app is lots of fun, and the iPad's camera is seamlessly integrated into the experience. I enjoyed looking for different textures in my environment to decorate my monster, below. Can you see the brown background of ti-tree mulch, the pink and green clothes of grevillea, with face by table mat, nose by leaves and paws by doormat?

An interactive story app for the iPad, Even Monsters Get Sick ($Au 2.99) isn't one I've reviewed but it looks and sounds good. "Kids read, listen, touch, play and interact with Harry as he struggles to find out what’s wrong with his new monster."

Toca Kitchen Monsters (FREE) " not a game - it's a toy where you and your kids get to explore cooking. What happens if you mix a carrot and then fry it? What do Monsters like to eat? Why do the Monsters spit some food out if it is over-seasoned? Toca Kitchen supports free play for all ages and is a great way to use your imagination."

I also found Create a Monster HD ($0.99) and Yay! Make a Monster! ($0.99) and must admit I prefer the art work in the latter. Kids could run with the idea of exchanging monster parts in their own art work by doing a paper fold monster where someone contributes a top, bottom, and middle.

I like TinkaMaker. I told you about it in Fun with Avatars. I love that it's FREE. It's simple too - kids can experiment to make all sorts of different Tinkas, and Tinkas can then be photographed against given backgrounds, OR, a background via the in-built camera. The creatures you produce are not scary, just cute. What fun to invent stories about them! Here's an example of a little story a young user made about her Tinkas, which was subsequently made into a video. (In case any of you might be frightened by the Tinka I created, below, I mitigated its ferocity by using my lovely yellow grevillea for a background.)

Activities for Hallowe'en

How about finding some pumpkins and having kids decorate them as their favourite characters from books? They don't need to be carved. You can ask kids to use fabric, card, googly eyes etc. Go all out and include other members of the vegetable family. Zombie Zucchini anyone?

Interested in Hallowe'en costumes? Find costume ideas from books and here are Harper Collins ideas on Pinterest.

The Usborne Foundation has a website called Teach Your Monster to Read, "...a series of free games to practise the first stages of reading. It now includes a brand new game – Fun With Words! Combining top quality games design with essential learning, the game is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence of the Letters and Sounds programme." Phonics is a real help to kids when decoding new words, or trying to write them.

JibJab has a free dancing skeleton e-card kids can add their own or a fiend's likeness to. It's free to get the url link to the card, but costs to download. I'm not sure the internet is ready for a dancing skeletal Book Chook, but click this link if you dare.

Have kids work in groups to make spooky soundscapes. When each group has practised, ask the rest of the kids to close their eyes and use their imaginations to listen to the soundscape. Take this another step, and have kids create a short spooky story, using the sound effects from their soundscapes. At school, students might like to bring in objects and instruments to contribute to the soundscapes, as well as practise their best scary impressions.

Watch two Hallowe'en videos, Arthur's Halloween, and Clifford the Big Red Dog Halloween.

Have kids read along with the Dark, dark wood in their best spooky voices. Can they innovate on the text and make their own scary story? Have them tell it to a partner or record it however they choose.

Larry Ferlazzo has an excellent list of Hallowe'en resources in The Best Websites For Learning About Halloween.

Hallowe'en Writing

Want some Hallowe'en-related writing for kids? Have children write real-estate ads for spooky houses. Who would kids' audience be for such ads? Monsters and ghouls? What features would such creatures be looking for in a home? How about an ad for Ghastly Ghoulash, the stew to make ghouls go ga-ga?

Make your own Hallowe'en-inspired cartoons. If kids are stuck for inspiration, have them create a picture with clipart/draw, and then come up with what the characters MIGHT be saying. My example below was created on Comics Head, an iPad app.

Create a recipe for a Monster - does anyone remember the TV cartoon, Milton the Monster? "Six drops of the essence of terror, Five drops of sinister sauce…" Ask kids what yukky or scary things they know that could create a monster.

Storybird has some wonderful art work with child-friendly monsters etc that your kids might like to use as prompts for their own stories. Try searching using tags like "teeth" and "halloween".

Create your own book of monster jokes. Here are some to get you started from Fact Monster.

Kids could monsterize themselves in a drawing or use an image editor, then tell us about a particular day in their lives. How does it feel to be a monster? What sort of monster are they? How does Hallowe'en impact their lives?

Hallowe'en Reading

If your little ghouls want a fun and spooky story, check out Scholastic Press's What do Werewolves do when it's not Halloween? by Heath McKenzie. They'll giggle over Steve the noisy skeleton, guffaw over Frankie Frankenstein and his ghastly lampshade, and spend the week after Hallowe'en eyeing the neighbours suspiciously!

For pre-schoolers, share the story of Penguin's Fat Ferdie by Pamela Allen with them. Fat Ferdie is nasty, gobbling meaty little creatures. When Fat Ferdie goes after children, we fear the worst, but fortunately, Allen gives us a fun twist.

For brave youngsters who nevertheless might like the light on at night, find a copy of Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown (published by Simon and Schuster in Australia 2013.) It's a great book for helping get children's nightmares and fears into perspective, and they'll adore the story's outcome!

For older kids, try City Of Monsters - Book One by DC Green, Ford Street Publishing (2013.) Here's a quote from Australian Teacher Librarian and Book Reviewer, Sue Warren: "Now let me see..........let’s take some gnarly grommets, angst-ridden kids with attitude, misfits of various descriptions and some seriously divided peer groups, and mix them all together in a monster mash of hilariously epic proportions…The characters are endearing, despite their monstrous attributes and the reader becomes fully engaged with the whole adventure." I am here to say Sue is right! Kids will love City of Monsters. It's a perfect choice for Hallowe'en or anytime you want a chapter book that not only grabs kids' interest with a cold, skeletal hand, but also holds promise of more books to come. With vampire mosquitos and man-eating birds, giant spiders named Bruce and an ancient dragon, Kalthazari, it's a wild, wild ride.

Make Monsters Online

Scholastic have a Goosebumps Monster Maker where kids drag legs, arms, heads and bodies onto backgrounds.

Kids can make monsters at The BBC site Make a monster.

The CBBC Sarah Jane Adventures have a great customisable Monster Maker game and a Monster Morpher where you can change your photo and get an Alien ID card to print.

Kids can also make monsters at Toonix, an avatar creator.

Here's a (flash) Monster Maker from Think Bank (below).

As well as the TinkaMaker app mentioned above, check out the Tinkatolli website, too. (Need to sign up but you can try it first.)


Here are some GREAT printable monster drawing sheets from Expressive Monkey. Kids roll dice to choose eyes, mouths, bodies etc.

Maggy from Red Ted Art has a simple and so effective Halloween Easy Pinata/Goodie Bag.

Instructions for how to make a Monster Ring Puppet.

I love this skeleton, assembled from paper plates.

Here's some monster clip art from My Cute Graphics.

Make a tattle monster from recycled materials.

PicMonkey, Pizap and Ribbet are online image editors that offer free fonts, clipart, and effects suitable for Hallowe'en. The image below was created with the Pizap app for iPad, by adding stickers and text to a background.

Party Ideas

Everyday Mom Ideas has lots of activities for a Little Monster Bash.

Here's a pinterest board of monster party ideas.

Here's some great skeleton bones food and zombie cake pops.

Donut + teeth + m and m's = monster.

If you want to go all out, why not convert your home into a Haunted House? Here's a great Pinterest board with lots of ideas.

Just for Fun

Zombie Spelling - kids can put in words and have zombie letters appear.  

If you've enjoyed this post, or any others at The Book Chook, I'd love you to help me spread my literacy, learning and literature ideas by promoting via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, StumbleUpon, G+ or any other way you decide. 

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